John Armstrong, BE, MSc, EngD John Preston, BA, MA, PhD



As traffic on Britain’s railways has grown, the system is approaching capacity and moving towards 24/7 operation. This increases wear and tear, and reduces access for maintenance, renewal and enhancement.

Increasing costs of renewals and enhancements are also questioned, amid funding scarcity. Alongside predictive and preventive maintenance, improved planning and implementation of renewals and enhancements are needed, balancing network availability for train operations with cost-effective construction activities.

Typically, extended track possessions maximise construction efficiency but also reduce network availability for operations, whereas short possessions maintain network availability but are least efficient for construction purposes.

The effects of infrastructure activities on network availability have typically been monitored and assessed retrospectively, rather than being planned proactively to maximise network availability or to optimise the trade-offs between network availability and engineering efficiency.

This paper reviews the current situation and identifies opportunities to enhance planning processes and the balance between network availability and engineering efficiency.


maintenance & inspection planning & scheduling railway systems